Quota-controlled free printing hits new record high

by Joe Lee

Hitting new record high sometimes is good but it is certainly not the case in student printing as more trees are destroyed and substantial energy is consumed to produce tons of paper, distribute them and print them.  The following chart depicts the usage trend of quota-controlled free student printing service in 6 consecutive years since its launch in 2005.

The usage pattern is very similar over the years; however, the total number of pages printed rises rapidly.  In only 6 years, the usage has been doubled giving a total of nearly 25,000,000 pages per year.

Analysis of the printing records shows that most files printed are already in commonly used electronic formats (e.g. MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Acrobat etc.) which can be viewed on screen conveniently.  However, students want to print hardcopies for some reasons.  Perhaps, it is necessary to cultivate online studying habit so that printing can be reduced.

Printing hitting a new peak is not without reasons.  Although we emphasize that the precious resource is solely for academic purpose, we have observed unacceptable wastes and abuses from time to time.

  1. Printing of blank paper
    This is the worst situation in which students print blank pages and collect them for their personal use.  This wastes a lot of money as there is a standard charge rate levied by the vendor for each page printed regardless whether the printed page is blank or not.  
  2. Printing of non-academic related materials
    Printing of restaurant menu, private tutor material, cartoon snapshot, promotion of election, scanned image, photo, banking statement and others is common.  
  3. Uncollected printouts
    Course notes are printed but not collected.  They become scattered on the surface of the printer or dropped around the printer.  Finally, they are not only treated as trash, but also unnecessary extra effort has to be spent on keeping the printing areas clean and tidy.
  4. Printing without previewing
    Students tend to print everything of a document without previewing the content first.  As a result, blackened graphics, unreadable PowerPoint slides and useless pages are printed.
  5. Printing of unnecessary pages
    Students tend to print the whole set of course material while only part of it will actually be needed.
  6. Changes in course notes
    Students tend to reprint the entire course notes as the course materials are amended.  This comprises the major waste if not abuse.  Printing demand can be drastically reduced if students care to print only the changed pages.

The CityU printing service has always been the most generous when compared to that of other institutions.  However, with the forgoing abuses of this service, we are forced to review the service shortly to make it sustainable in the long run.  We hope that our students can save more trees by making the best and prudent uses of the printing resources for learning and course work.